A WASTE recycling site that treated thousands of tons of household rubbish leaked a run-off that contained salmonella and E. coli, a court heard.

The site run by Wormtech Ltd was licenced to compost up to 75,000 tons of food and garden waste from homes in Gwent, Cardiff Crown Court was told. But Environment Agency (EA) bosses discovered the Caerwent site had polluted a watercourse in 2010.

The company pleaded guilty to an offence in relation to the pollution incident, but the EA suspended its licence in July 2012 after becoming aware of the leak from a composting building, a jury heard.

However, Wormtech was unable to take on more waste or generate any income owing to the suspension and the company left the site with £40,000 debts, the court was told yesterday.

Former Wormtech Ltd director, Jacqueline Powell, 58, is this week standing trial for alleged breaches of an environmental permit.

Powell, of Manor Way, Cardiff, denies three counts of consenting to or conniving as a director of a company of failing to comply with an environmental permit.

She also denies one count of consenting to or conniving as a director of treating, keeping or disposing controlled waste on land in a manner likely to cause pollution.

Earlier in the trial, EA officer Kelly Jarman said the site on MoD land was “the worst” she had been to. She was taken aback by the smell, amount of waste and lack of management.

She also found a lack of drainage to collect the run-off. But cross examining her yesterday, Powell’s barrister Adam Vaitilingam QC said the company had carried out work to deal with potential pollution including the building of a lagoon to collect run-off.

He said the firm had told the EA it could not press on with remedial work unless it could generate income by taking on more waste.

“A company that has no assets, substantial debt and no income cannot operate,” he said.

He also stressed that Wormtech was the subject of a “rigorous regime” put in place by the Composting Association and Defra.